Thursday, August 5, 2004

Some Kind of Monster

There's one scene in Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, in which James Hetfield, the lead singer, openly wonders whether the filming of their own documentary should even continue. When the directors (who appear in the film) ask whether Hetfield remembered his motivations for doing the documentary, he said (I'm paraphrasing): "I figured 'We're Metallica'; we're supposed to have a documentary."

This at once sums up the nature of "the monster" that is Metallica. A heavy metal icon, the band has been around for over twenty years. They have sold an immense amount of records. Their fans are loyal and legion. Should this band have a documentary? That's a silly question. Of course it should have a documentary.

I enjoyed watching Metallica's creative process so openly documented. The song writing, the riff conjuring, and the music making process is depicted as awkward, frustrating, and hardly glamorous. Their efforts in the studio and in the mixing sessions seem to yield precious few rewards.

The core band (Hetfield, outspoken drummer Lars Ulrich, and guitarist Kirk Hammett) have accumulated much wealth, and it is in full display, but throughout the movie they yearn for things that money can't buy: the love of their families and parents, the time and space to think, the opportunity to become better versions of themselves.

There are some inadvertent references to Spinal Tap, but Monster proves that art does imitate life. You see their children parading around in their studio. You see the band whining about their group therapy sessions. You see the rehabilitated Hetfield quitting "work" at 4 so he can catch his daughter's ballet class.

During the documentary, the group constantly struggled with the fear of being considered 'yesterday's music.' The ending suggests that they're still as vital as ever, but we've learned that it takes a lot of work to stay vital. It's a lesson worth seeing through this movie.

1 comment:

  1. RIP, Bruce Sinofsky. He passed away a few days ago. He created the movie "Some Kind of Monster", with co-director Joe Berlinger.